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Chinese Silver Qilin and Bead Necklace

The Qilin ( pronounced “chee-lin”) is a mythological creature ….one of the four mythological creatures that have been part of Chinese culture for many centuries. Sometimes it is referred to as the Chinese Unicorn …it is always a symbol for good fortune in many forms.


c. 19th century, Qilin with figure carrying a fan, all silver, front repoussé chased detail, flat back.

The Qilin necklace could be worn by a young man wishing for good grades on his civil service examinations or worn by a wife hoping to give birth to many sons.  A smaller version might be worn by a child for protection. The Qilin also governed the west …so it is connected with the ideas of maturity and fulfillment.

Traditionally, Chinese Silver ornaments such as this Qilin were worn simply with a heavy silver chain… the beads on this one were probably added some time during the 20th century to make the necklace more appealing to the western market.

At the time I purchased this, the old bead string was rotting and needed to be replaced. The beads themselves were so unusual and uncommon; translucent jade, melon carved silver, celadon carved with the Shou symbol, I made the decision to keep them together. 0052

The Qilin pendants offered artisans who worked in silver an opportunity to express their creativity…you could probably spend a lifetime just collecting Qilins and never find two alike.

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